Cosmetic surgery in the UK is booming, and despite a faltering economy the amount of men and women seeking nip tucks and wrinkle-reducing jabs has continued to rise. Of course cosmetic procedures don't usually come cheap, and a worrying trend has developed in the last 12 months of potential patients turning to cut-price online deals.
Websites such as Wowcher and Groupon offer heavily discounted treatments in return for signing up to their newsletters. Every day members receive enticing offers ranging from half price holidays to laser hair removal. From the outside these beauty deals may seem like a great way to look better on a budget; but at what cost?
The deals, which usually demand payment on the spot, involve customers buying a voucher which can then be redeemed with a clinic or salon later for the procedure. Many health organisations, from both the UK and across Europe, have slammed these sites for offering cut-price cosmetic procedures, and with good reason.
From a safety aspect, offering discounted cosmetic surgery is a minefield. For one, you have no way of knowing this clinic you are signing your body over to is reputable, nor that the staff who work there are trained to the appropriate level. For example, Botox and other injectables like it should only be administered by trained nurses and doctors, and the treatment should take place in a registered facility.
Just two days ago I saw a voucher for a mobile Botox salon offering the jabs for over 70% less than the national average. My heart actually sank to think of the hundreds of people who would no doubt have purchased this voucher unaware of the risks associated with such treatments in the hands of the wrong person. No form of treatment should ever be trivialised (Botox parties: really?!) and even something as common as muscle relaxing injections must be researched.
The economic downturn saw a huge surge in clinics and doctors turning to voucher sites in order to boost their trade, but entering into cosmetic surgery should not be undertaken lightly, and I find- like many others that work in the industry- most of the commercial tactics associated with cut-price surgery offers actually rather underhand and misleading.
In Britain, the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) recently ruled against an advert which offered a breast augmentation or rhinoplasty for £1,999 instead of £5,000 and forced people to make the purchase by midnight that same day. Quite rightly the ASA decided that this pressure of time was "irresponsible" and forced customers to make a snap decision. A massive no-no if you ask any reputable practitioner.
Yes, the clinics are apparently vetted thoroughly to make sure they offer a high quality of service. And yes, the prices on offer look fantastic, but the truth is if something seems too good to be true it usually is, and for the sake of your health you should investigate everything thoroughly and make your decision to have treatments based on quality advice, not the price or the allure of attractive offers.
I explain time and time again to readers of The Cosmetic Surgery Guide the importance of research and entering into cosmetic surgery as you would ANY other type of surgery. Make sure you know what your chosen procedure involves, what risks are associated with it, book a consultation with a reputable surgeon, doctor or nurse etc, but how can prospective patients do this under time constraints and 'use by' dates on vouchers?
We live in a fast-moving world where everything is needed right here and right now, but this cannot and should not be the case for cosmetic surgery. Whether it be a tummy tuck or a sin peel, you need to make sure you know what you're getting and who from. The relationship between a patient and practitioner - whether that be plastic surgeon, cosmetic doctor or nurse, dermatologist, face surgeon and so on- needs to be unpressured by time so that the best treatment can be devised. A really good prac will also talk you out of surgery should he or she feel you do not need it, or would benefit from counselling first.
My advice? Take time to understand the risks as well as the rewards associated with ALL types of cosmetic and aesthetic procedures.
You wouldn't book your nose job with a pushy sales person at a consultation, so why let it happen online?